Convoy of buses was on its way to Shiite holy sites in Iran.
At least 19 Shiite pilgrims, including four women, are killed when their convoy of three buses is struck by a car bomb.
ISLAMABAD — At least 19 Shiite pilgrims, including four women, were killed Sunday when their convoy of three buses in southwestern Pakistan was struck by a car bomb, officials said. At least 25 other people were wounded in the attack in the Mastung district of Baluchistan province.
There were conflicting reports about whether the attack on the Shiites was carried out by a suicide bomber, or if the car bomb was detonated by remote control.
Earlier Sunday, government officials said they had discovered the bodies of 21 tribal police officers who were kidnapped by the Taliban last week in northwestern Pakistan.
The pilgrims were on their way to Shiite holy sites in neighboring Iran when the attack occurred. A pickup truck filled with explosives was detonated as the pilgrims’ convoy passed by Sunday morning. The explosion destroyed one bus and damaged the other two.
The wounded were taken to a hospital in the provincial capital, Quetta, officials said.
“Most of the dead bodies are completely burned,” said Maj. Nadir Ali, a retired army officer and a senior leader in the ethnic Hazara community.
Ali said the pilgrims had traveled from different cities and stayed in Quetta overnight before embarking on the 500-mile journey to Zahedan, Iran.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but Shiite Muslims have repeatedly been singled out by extremist Sunni militants belonging to the banned group Lashkar-eJhangvi, which has links to Pakistani Taliban militants in the tribal areas.
Pakistan’s Shiites have long complained that despite repeated assurances, the government has offered inadequate security and failed to protect them. In Baluchistan province, sectarian attacks have often been directed at the ethnic Hazaras, a Persian-speaking Shiite minority. More than 300 Shiites, many of them Hazaras, have been killed in Baluchistan since 2008, according to Human Rights Watch.
Ali, the Hazara leader, said the Mastung district was a particularly dangerous point on the trip to Iran because the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi had a strong presence there.In the fall of 2011, militants there dragged 26 Hazara men and boys from a bus headed to Iran and executed them.
In northwestern Pakistan, 21 police officers who had been captured by Taliban militants were found shot to death late Saturday night on the outskirts of Peshawar, government officials said Sunday.
Security forces gather at the site of a bombing in Quetta, Pakistan, on Sunday. A vehicle packed with explosives rammed into a bus carrying Shiite Muslim pilgrims in southwest Pakistan on Sunday, killing at least 19 people.